Albums Everyone Should Listen to Before They Die

This is a series I plan to keep ongoing. Spanning my musical tastes, I hope to merely suggest, and review, exceptional albums. My hope is that even if you are not a fan of the particular genre or style, you very well could still enjoy these albums. When choosing an album, I intend to find albums that transcend, that can reach all people. The blog as a whole is doing an in depth, song by song, series like this with Radiohead’s In Rainbows (which you can expect the next part soon). The first album in the series is Pink Floyd’s classic, Dark Side of the Moon .  My thoughts and suggestions after the jump.

Dark Side of the Moon is a defining moment in rock history.  Considered by many to be Pink Floyd’s greatest work, it is one of the top selling albums of all time.  This album is more than music, it is an experience.  From start to finish, it is meant to be listen to as a whole.  Tracks run one into the next seamlessly (other than switching sides on the original vinyl).  As I listen to this album, the desire to drop what I am doing, close my eyes, and just listen nearly overwhelms me.  Whether you answer that call or not, you will lose yourself in the music and before you know it the album is almost over.

The intro to the album, “Speak to Me” is slow and quiet.  At normal volume levels you might go a full minute before you hear anything.  A bass drum beats rhythmically, like a heart beat.  Building up to some chatter and finally a scream, almost as if you are an infant coming into the world for the first time.  The music shifts to to the next track, “Breathe.”

“Breathe” is a relaxing melody of guitar and drums.  The song almost begs you to lay down and close your eyes.  The lyrics reflect on life in an abstract way.  ” all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be” sets the stage for the rest of the album, which touches on money, religion, growing up, and getting old.  The 3rd verse equates life to a rabbit endlessly digging holes, one after the other.  The last line, ” You race towards an early grave” hits right before the next song starts.

If “Breathe” relaxed you, “On the Run” could cause some tension.  Suspenseful music leaves a slight fear in the back of your mind.  Running footsteps dubbed over the constant beat allude to the feeling of being chased.  Ominous voices and laughter add to the trip, which ends in an explosion and the faint pitter-patter of running footsteps growing tired.

“Time” starts with a chorus of clocks chiming as if it were the top of the hour.  Hollow drums beat away with a constant deep bellow drawing you in and lead right up to the opening line, ” Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day.”  The song continues, reminiscing on how fast time goes by and the daily drudge of life.  The track ends with a “Breathe” reprise, almost a continuation of that second track.  From chasing the sun to ending up back at home, “Time” is a will make you wonder where yours went.

“The Great Gig in the Sky” brings to light the thought of death.  Mostly instrumental, the song starts with a slow piano melody leading into a voice over, “And I am not frightened of dying… … There’s no reason for it, you’ve gotta go sometime.”  After which the track builds up to a sonic climax before winding down to a relaxing piano, almost a throwback to the second track “Breathe” though much slower.  Finally ending in the first bit of silence since the start of the album.

Side two of the LP, or just the next track on your CD, “Money” uses tongue-in-cheek humor to address something we are so dependent on in the modern world.  Lyrics describe the conflict perfectly, we all want it, but we don’t want anyone else to get ours.  Sounds of cash registers and coins clanking fill the first half of the song.  The upbeat and catchy music could be stuck in your head for days.  This song has the most intensive guitar work of the album.  Chattering over the music run right into the next track.

After the up-beat and engaging “Money” comes the relaxing and slow “Us and Them.”  Starting slow, the song builds up in each verse, resetting to the slow relaxing melody after each.  As the song builds up, the lyrics describe a conflict of some sort, almost like a mini climax or escalation.  The song repeats the cycle four times, three with lyrics, taking you on a roller coaster ride that alludes to real life relationships.

“Any Colour You Like” is an up-beat track.  All instrumental, the spacey noises give it a personality of it’s own and serve as a great bridge to the ending tacks.  Just keep your eyes open and you won’t get lost, though that is true for pretty much all of these songs.

“Brain Damage” and “Eclipse” close out the album.  Addressing old age and becoming senile, it is almost as if you lived an entire life through this album.  The former describing a lunatic living in your head and traveling to the dark side of the moon.  The latter being a climactic piece touching on the reflective state many reach at the end of their lives, how it all came together under the sun but in the end is eclipsed by the moon.  The album ends on a quiet bass drum just as it started, except this time is stops suddenly instead of fading away.

Wait how did I end up over here?  That should be the question you ask yourself after taking the ride that “The Dark Side of the Moon” is.  In a way few other albums can, you feel like you started in one place and ended up in another.  One thing I have not mentioned yet is the use of stereo audio in this album.  Many times throughout there are different things going on in each ear.  I highly recommend headphones.  Time will tick away unnoticed and you will be out of 40 minutes quickly after you start this album, but I cannot think of anything else I would rather do with 40 minutes of my time.  So pick this one up, get some headphones, sit down, relax, and enjoy the journey.

Have an album you think everyone should listen to before they die?  Let me know in a comment and I will be sure to check it out.  It can be any genre, any style, whatever.  Or maybe you took me up on my offer and decided to experience this album.  Let me know what you think.  I hope to bring you a new album once a month or so, maybe more often if I feel inclined.

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One response to “Albums Everyone Should Listen to Before They Die

  1. I did a “Dark Side of the Moon” review a while back (http://wakefieldnews.blogspot.com/2008/01/dark-side-of-moon-pink-floyd-review.html) and with that said I couldn’t agree more with your commentary.

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